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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:07 pm 
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Location: Stratford, ON, CA
Hi,

THIS POST HAS BEEN EDITED AND EXPANDED

Well, well, well. Toronto now has an audio show worthy of the name 'Toronto Audio Fest'. Four floors of it at the Airport Westin Hotel. I hit the doors at 11:00 this morning and right from the top you could tell it was a winner. The energy level and excitement was palpable. Great luxury hotel, nice big display rooms and lots of separation between rooms so not much sound bleed. In four hours I got through two floors, three and four. The lower floors are for tomorrow. When coming give yourself lots of time - it is really big and well organized. Hats off to the people from Montreal that picked up the ball and ran with it. Big kudos to them.

I will only touch on a few items and will expand on this post tomorrow.

Day 1.

I started at the top where the more boutique like retailers and distributors are located. As you go down the floors the rooms get bigger and the name brands get showcased. I am a boutique hi-fi guy.

First off, there are several vendors from Montreal who are not regular Toronto types. So check out Coup de Foudre (Rm 327) and Atelier Audio (Rm. 347) as well as Atoll Electronique (R. 336) and even Solen (Rm. 353), the capacitor people, have a room where they are selling tubes in pairs.

Some quick and maybe inaccurate comments are in order, recognizing my biases are for two way systems. Room 447 and 448 are represented by Audiogen High End Canada, and while they have an office in Toronto, they are from Istanbul. They have four systems on display. The Devore 0/93 with a Wavac tube amp and a Nagra Dac was wonderful. Similarly down the hall check out Entracte Audio (Rm 450) where George Taylor the owner and Gilbert Yeung lurk (Blue Circle). They are using BC amps to push a pair of Marten speakers. On the same floor check out Artist Cloner (Rm. 446) a new face on the block, with a pair of Rebel reference speakers that were really singing. Also, Vinyl Sound on that floor has Harbeths if you are curious - two pairs - SLH5 and 40.2.

Down one floor we get Audio Note (Rm 346) , no stranger to show goers. Also Toronto Home of the Audiophile (Rm 343) is showing the smaller Golden Ear pair, the Model 1s, which I think I like, and for me, as a two way guy, that says a lot. Plus they are physically smaller than the Triton Reference and therefore more WAF friendly.

My favourite room though so far is Coup de Foudre (Rm 327). They are based in Montreal. They are showing a custom pair of (tweaked) Omega 8s, which have an active sub-system and a separate enclosure for the coax mid/tweeter, while the upper frequency range was driven (today) by a Leben, and tomorrow, probably by a Line Magnetic. Graeme played several stunning tracks for me and others. This is, in my rather humble view, purist territory, so do not be mistaken. They have clients in the GTA and regularly visit here to deliver and install. I have no commercial affiliation.

That's it for right now. But get there!!

About parking.There is a 'city level' charge for parking in the hotel lot. I lost my parking entry stub and paid a premium. But the show is free and clearly worth it. If you want to try it, directly across from the entrance to the Westin (on Dixon Rd.) there is a Park and Fly lot and I don't know their price but it would likely be a day fee.

Have fun. I will be back tomorrow for sure.

Day 2.

I got there around 11:00 again. My intention was to graze on the first two floors, actually three floors including the basement. Many of the rooms on these lower floors are salon size or even larger and the systems are mostly very large and mega-buck top of the line stuff from various companies. For me, this is the least interesting part of any show because I'm never going to buy any if it.

Don't get me wrong. There are some excellent sounding large systems in these rooms, but many of them will require massive gymnasium size listening rooms and if you take some of these systems home and stick them in a 350 sq. ft room you are going to have many, many problems. They need a lot of air around them. In addition, and this is frankly my personal view, many are cosmetically designed to be 'knock-outs'. There is a kind of buyer who is really guided by the visual feast in audio and by furniture grade finishes. I hesitate therefore to pick on any specific company or room and will only comment here on a couple of surprises.

The Audio by Mark Jones room was packed, as it always seems to be, and he had a pair of Magico speakers set-up which were well-liked by many but which I found a little too forward. I drifted into the Neat Acoustics room, remembering that at last year's TAVES, their miniature pair of floor-standing IOTA Alpha's were show stoppers. Not so much this time. The room was huge and the Alpha's are really REALLY tiny and they had the gain wicked way up to compensate for their size and they were clearly in distortion territory.

Audio Eden, a reliable shop, had a small room (always a wise choice) and they had an equipment stand filled with lovely new Nagra gear feeding a pair of Kharma S7 speakers. It all produced a very, very nice smooth sound. Lightnin' Hopkins was right in the room. In the Monitor Audio/Roksan room, they were showing the new Studio model speaker, in white finish, with matching stand. This is a D'Appolito design with rear vents and a ribbon tweeter. It was pretty stunning for about $1800 plus $750 for the stands. The room was full of people and I would have to give them a show ribbon for 'best show value' by a country mile.

Finally, another new kid on the block was uncovered, Esse Quadro, an Italian company with a couple of beautifully crafted two way speaker systems. They might get overlooked (their spot is L-11) but their sound pulled me in as I was headed to the big Sutton A, B, and C salons. I sat for quite a long time and this was in a 'hallway', hardly the best place to audition them.

After a couple of hours I went to a seminar given by the owner/designer of the Artist Cloner line, Sylvio Comtois, from Montreal. For about an hour we compared notes on design approaches. I would encourage people to listen to his products (Rm 446) as found on the fourth floor. I think he has got a lot of things right.

By then I was pretty whacked out, so I revisited a couple of rooms up on the third and fourth floor just to make sure I was not deluded on Friday. Coup de Foudre was swirling with visitors. Audio Note was having to lock the door at times to accommodate the crowd. I talked to the people at Atelier Audio about the J.M. Reynaud line, a brand I like very much. They had a pair of Cantibile Jubilees I very much wanted to hear, but they were not scheduled to hook them up until after 6:00 or so Saturday evening. Rightly so, they are reluctant to speaker swap, as many things can go wrong at shows.

And finally, I do have to report on a 'shiver moment'. We all look for these, don't we? A new retail group called Audiogen High End Canada are up on the fourth floor and showing several systems. Yesterday they had a Devore 0/93 pair driven by a Wavac tube amp and a fed by a Nagra DAC. I thought it was pretty special. Today they were high-lighting a new and very large speaker system, the EgglestonWorks Viginti, already reviewed by Michael Fremer. I was ravished by it. They played a cut from Stevie Ray Vaughn's Double Trouble and I have heard that cut dozens of times but not like that. My god, I had goose-bumps running up and down my back. They sell for about $39K, that's just the speakers.

So, that's it for me this year.

Cheers,
David Neice

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Last edited by buybye88 on Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:56 am, edited 5 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:15 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2005 7:53 pm
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Location: Scarborough, ON, CA
All I saw attending the show was middle aged men, just like me!
I agree that Graeme from CDF did a superb job with a real world music system. Some of the mega systems were poorly setup, and muddy or boomy. I was surprised at how damn good the big Bryston sounded though.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:05 pm 
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Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, NB, CA
Hope this is not considered off-topic, but could someone post what is being played as demo tunes.

My Diana Krall stuff is getting just a tad long in the tooth.

Cheers, del Sol

PS: Delighted to hear that the show appears to be a hit.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:28 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:56 pm
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Location: Nepean, ON, CA
tommyboytp wrote:
All I saw attending the show was middle aged men, just like me!
I agree that Graeme from CDF did a superb job with a real world music system. Some of the mega systems were poorly setup, and muddy or boomy. I was surprised at how damn good the big Bryston sounded though.



What did Graeme have setup? I was down to CDF a few weeks ago and need to follow up on my visit with him.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:36 pm 
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Location: pincourt, QC, CA
I was planning to attend but, due to a car accident my mobility will be limited for another week or two. I will have to be content reading reports and checking out the photos from attending members. I look forward to attending the next show. Hope those people attending this years show have a great time.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:39 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:08 pm
Posts: 118
Location: Whitby, ON, CA
Hi All

First off, the Toronto Audio Fest was an absolute treat. It was obviously very well put together with an excellent number of exhibitors and relevant product to cater to the taste of audio that we all so enjoy. The last time I attended one of these shindigs was 37 years ago at the Constellation Hotel and as an exhibitor. The reports over the ensuing years were somewhat varied as to the success of each show, thus my loss of interest in these matters.

This did not disappoint. Number one, it was an AUDIO show. Great start. The exhibitors seemed to welcome open discourse and the overall vibe was quite frankly one of joy and enthusiasm between attendee and exhibitor. As an attendee one felt welcomed and the exhibitors really seemed to appreciate what was happening.

I'm not about to go into detail about what/who was there so a couple a favourite observations:

Favorite Room. Artist Cloner in room 446. Hosted by Sylvio Comtois from Montreal was his creations with the fabulous Rebel Reference Speaker. With his electronics, congenial style and a well set up room this is a must to visit. Sleeper Alert on this one! The personality of the day was Rene (from Mystic Audio) in the Saturn electronics room. This guy has an incredible funny, ascerbic sense of humour. Great to chat with gentleman. (how as the turkey club, Rene?)


Anyway if you can make the scene, a truly fun event and get out there is possible.

Cheers.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 4:28 pm 
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Location: Brampton, ON, CA
With the limited time I had (1 hr), I made it to the CDF room accidentally (357), and liked what I saw and heard, despite being limited with the room setup.

What really surprised me was the Monitor audio studio bookshelf setup with the Roksan amp/phono preamp. Very silky sound, nice imaging!

I wish I could've stayed and listened more, but it's been a busy day at work, and tied up with commitments on the weekend...

I think that some of the guys had their work cut out for them with the laminate floor setup, but some booths were prepared with rugs and bass traps. :)

Great show overall. If you have a few hours to spend, this is as good as it gets. Excellent! Will be booking off a weekend next year if they come back in town!


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 4:40 pm 
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Keep the impressions coming, sounds like I will have to make sure I book time off next year to go!


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:18 pm 
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Location: Orillia, ON, CA
David thank you .


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:22 pm 
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First day...best room...Audiogen High End Canada on the 4th floor.

I was also very impressed with the ELAC room and in particular the ELAC Argo B51 3-way wireless powered speaker...a steal at $6,000.00!!!

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:36 pm 
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Location: Toronto, ON, CA
Ok some pics of the rooms.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:50 pm 
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Location: Toronto, ON, CA
Totally agree with David … T.O has a GREAT audio show again !! 8) superb vibe, and lots to see and listen to. Great venue. VERY well presented.
Highlights for me were startup Saturn Audio, a new venture with design work being done by Gilbert Yeung of Blue Circle fame. This could be "one to watch".
Audio by Mark Jones had superb sound with the Luxman 509 and Magico's making some sweet sounds, both in analog and digital realm. I could have just pulled up a lounge chair and moved in here.. :lol:
Artist Cloner also had terrific sound as David noted.
Kennedy hi-fi was rocking with some Klipsch Forte's and Prima Luna tubes and ProJect vinyl spinner, a great vintage appeal yet modern sound.
The Martin Logan room was sublime, with the Renaissance 15a's being pushed around by a full stack of SIM Evolution gear. 8)
Down in the big hall, Plurison had lots on display both static and active.

Lots of headphone displays, vinyl for sale, etc. This show needs to continue, and grow and be supported. It's a winner.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:51 pm 
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:38 pm 
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I was there for most of the day and saw every room. The best rooms were generally the smaller suites. Most of the big rooms swallowed up whatever was playing except for Lemay Audio/KEF on the lobby level, the Avant Garde room and the Yamaha room. The NS5000s sounded really good driven by a big Yamaha preamp/amp pairing despite a substandard turntable. Lemay had a luxe system with Blades driven by Tenor amps and a really nice turntable, a Kronos. I heard the Magico A3s with Luxman gear and an AMG table in the Audio by Mark Jones room and while it showed promise, he was playing the music too loud for my tastes.

Primaluna was being shown in at least three rooms. The hosts of these rooms were raving about the Dialogue and Dialog HP. Tempting. Tri-Cell had a room with a Unico 150 hybrid integrated, an Acoustic Solid table (with a sub $1000 Dynavector cartridge), and Focal Kanta 2s that was really dialed in. Very nice. Tri-Cell also had some upper range Audiovectors that sounded amazing. I was put off by their pitch for Hi Frequency Resonators that they had stuck on the walls throughout the room. Pseudoscience at best.

I agree that the Saturn room was neat since it was their coming out party. They had a Saturn stack powering some nice PMC floorstanders. I really liked the rack in that room, by Mystic Audio. I thought the Atelier Audio setup was amazing. Some custom open baffle speakers featuring a concentric vintage Altec driver and some very nice Japanese tube electronics plus electronics Samuel designs. He was using a Micro Seiki table and a reasonably priced ($2,390) Thomas Schiick tonearm with a Miyajima cartridge. His room was my favourite. I also really liked the Reflector standmounts in the Reference 3a room. For a standmount, they are huge. Very impressed with the Triton Reference 1’s driven by a brand new 16 watt First Watt amp. Say what you want about Triton, the speakers sound great.

One of the more interesting (and great sounding) rooms was speaker maker Acora. He is showing off $38,000 GRANITE loudspeakers that are a ported two-way using Scanspeak drivers. He was using massive Audio Research tube amps and the sound was very, very impressive.

Finally, yes, I agree, the Artist Cloner room was excellent. He is really an amp maker whose friends bugged him to build speakers for them. The result is a very large pair of standmounts, the Rebels, that will run you $16,000 with stands. This guy seems like some sort of audio genius to be able to build such amazing amps and speakers. I think he is a one man show yet the finish and styling are gorgeous.

I could go on and on but suffice it to say, it was a terrific way to spend the day. Frankly, if you are a CAMMER and you live in the GTA, you would be nuts not to find half a day this weekend to attend. The organization of the show is absolutely first rate. We need to support the show if we want it to continue!


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:51 pm 
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Location: mississauga, ON, CA
Top notch. Nice to have a quality audio show back in Toronto!


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